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George D. Cowie, Director of Coast Surveys in the Philippine Islands, was killed at Manila on December 24, 1941, during an air raid by Japanese warplanes. Details of the incident are lacking at present.

George Durno Cowie was born December 30, 1888, at Ogdensburg, N.Y., the son of Charles and Chrissie A. Cowie. He was educated in the public schools there and at Ogdensburg Academy. Enrolled at Clarkson College of Technology, Potsdam, N.Y., he received the degree of Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering in 1912 and the professional Civil Engineering degree in 1920.

He entered on duty with the Bureau on July 1, 1910. From that time until his death his assignments in both field and office were varied. These included field work in triangulation; precise leveling; astronomical determinations of latitude, longitude, and azimuth in the United States and Alaska; gravity determinations; traverse measurements; magnetic measurements, ship and shore; coast pilot field and office work; and various other

During his service he was in command of various survey vessels operating in the Philippines and elsewhere. In 1933 he was placed in charge of the New York Field Station serving in that capacity until 1936. During the latter assignment he directed a triangulation survey extending from the vicinity of Brunswick, N.J., through Trenton southward along the Delaware River. Also under his direction new hydrographic surveys were made in the vicinity of Long Island which brought up to date the information on charts used by New York and Long Island yachtsmen.

Returning to Washington in 1937 Commander Cowie was assigned as Assistant Chief of the Division of Geodesy and in 1938 as Assistant Chief of Hydrography and Topography. His final assignment as Director of Coast Surveys in the Philippine Islands came in March 1941.

Commander Cowie was highly regarded as an officer, and he leaves a record of many splendid contributions to the work of the Bureau. Greatly devoted to his work, he was also an enthusiastic participant in the social and recreational activities of the Bureau. His courtesy and friendliness were unfailing, and he was held in highest esteem by his fellow workers.

Commander Cowie is survived by Mrs. Cowie, who was also in Manila at the time of his death; a son, George D. Cowie, Jr., a student at Clarkson College of Technology; and four daughters, Mrs. Louise Angelo of Arlington, Virginia, Miss Jane Cowie of Washington, Miss Betty Cowie of Stamford, Connecticut, and Miss Teedy Cowie who accompanied her father and mother to Manila.

Commander Cowie was a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Society of American Military Engineers, and the United States Naval Institute.

C&GS Bulletin, 12/31/1941

One of the saddest greetings ever received in the office last Wednesday which announced the death of Commander George D. Cowie who was killed during a bombing raid on Manila.

Capt. Cowie, as he was affectionately called, was one of the most popular officers in our organization and the shock of learning of his very tragic death cast a decided pall over the entire office.

Commander Cowie was assigned as Director of Coast Surveys in the Philippine Islands last March upon completion of a tour of duty in the Bureau in Washington. The headquarters of the Survey in the Philippine Islands are located in the port area of Manila.

Commander Cowie was born at Ogdensburg, New York, and was graduated in civil engineering from Clarkson College of Technology. He entered the Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1910.

He was a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and various other technical societies. During his service he had command of several of the major vessels of the Coast Survey on assignments in all classes of work on both coasts of the United States, in Alaska, and in the Philippine Islands.

In the last world war Commander Cowie served in France from November 1917 to February 1919. He was assigned by the Coast Survey to the Field Artillery and served as orientation officer during the St. Mihiel and Argonne offensives.

He is survived by his wife and one daughter who were with him in Manila, and by three daughters and one son now in Washington….

In: “ The Buzzard,” Vol. IX, No. 1, pp. 1-2. December 31, 1941.

Publication of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NOAA Central Library.
Last Updated: June 8, 2006 9:27 AM

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